MEDINAH, Ill. (WLS) -- A suburban investment broker, accused of leaving a multi-million dollar trail littered with jilted customers, now says he is too sick to face justice.
The feds charge that Walter Ascher's investment business was aimed at funding his own fancy lifestyle and that he left suburban customers in the dust. On Friday in federal court Ascher is scheduled to appear for a hearing to determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial on criminal fraud charges.
"That's just a bunch of BS" said alleged Ascher victim Jack Furlong. "He put us in financial ruin."
Furlong family members say they invested their life savings with Ascher and that he was their trusted tax preparer -- a suburban man with whom they'd worked for years.
"He's playing with everybody else's money" said Joan Furlong.
"You work all your life for your pension, and everything's gone" said her father.
In all -- the Furlong family says they invested more than $1 million dollars in his company called Truck Financial, headquartered in northwest suburban Roselle. Ascher would supposedly buy big rigs and then lease them to drivers -paying investors the profit. Instead of investing their money in trucks, federal prosecutors say Ascher was financing his own high life.
"The economy started getting bad, the checks started coming late, then half the check, then a couple bounced you know? He's like a miniature Bernie Madoff" Jack Furlong said.
Records in Ascher's divorce file claim that in addition to a mansion near Medinah he owned numerous other properties including a home in Florida, a million dollar castle in Slovakia, many luxury and sports cars along with a 46 foot yacht. Divorce records also reveal that he went by the name "shyster" on a dating website.
"He knows exactly what he's doing" said investor and alleged victim Joan Anderson. "He's playing the game" Anderson said.
"The game," according to Ascher's alleged victims, is that his health started dramatically declining after he was facing criminal charges.
Ascher has pleaded not guilty and a medical evaluation found that he was "incompetent to stand trial" because of what Ascher's attorney says is an "Alzheimer's type dementia" that has left him unable to help in his defense.
Ascher also claims to now require "chemotherapy treatments twice weekly" for "colon, liver and kidney cancer" and just last month another court hearing was postponed because of his lawyers' claim that doctors apparently found "two new tumors in his abdomen"
"He's a professional con that's what he is" said Joan Anderson, who claims to have invested more than $1 million with Ascher. "Now it's the ultimate, they have come up with something that they believe he has dementia or something. It's another scam!" Anderson said.
They bought his investments, but don't buy he's too sick for justice
An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
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